SBD/December 16, 2013/Franchises

Pirates' Frank Coonelly Addresses Root Sports Deal, Payroll At Annual Fan Event

Coonelly says the Pirates will continue to reinvest revenue into the team
Pirates fans during Saturday's PirateFest "grilled Pirates president Frank Coonelly about the team's television contract with Root Sports, according to Bill Brink of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. Coonelly "defended the TV deal with Root Sports in response to a question about whether the contract contained a clause allowing re-negotiation." He also said the Pirates' reported revenue of $18-20M per year was "not even close to the right number." Coonelly added that the payroll "would continue to increase at a rate similar to that of the past three years." An AP report showed that the Pirates finished '10 with a $44.1M payroll, and opened '13 with an $80M payroll, roughly $13M of which "came from other teams." Coonelly said, "We'll be up again next year. We'll continue to reinvest the dollars that we generate and that you provide for this organization into the club" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 12/15). In Pittsburgh, Rob Biertempfel noted the fan Q&A in previous years "has been marked by pointed questions and even angry outbursts by fans," but this year "was different." About a dozen season-ticket holders gave Coonelly and GM Neal Huntington a "standing ovation at the start of the hourlong Q&A session." Many of the questions "began with expressions of gratitude for this past season" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 12/15).

THE TRUST TREE: In Pittsburgh, Joe Starkey wrote under the header, "Pirates Have Earned More Trust." The Pirates "spent baseball's hot-stove season in a damp, cold basement," and fans' reactions have been "predictable." Fans seem to believe "they're cheap," and that team Owner Bob Nutting "doesn't want to win." When fans have been "burned for five or 10 or 20 years," it is "hard to trust again." But an MLB team's "ability to spend these days is directly related to its local television deal, and the Pirates don't measure up." The team's payroll, "though modest, will increase again, as it should given the influx of national TV money." They "do have the National League's best player secured to a team-friendly deal" through '18 in CF Andrew McCutchen. Starkey: "The Pirates might actually know what they're doing" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 12/15).
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